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WEATHER; a cloudy start and quite chilly. Sunny later with stronger winds. Temp 28C

Last week a group member called Laurie had a particular love for Nightingales, he found one in the grounds of our hotel and visited it everyday, it sat right out in the open and sang its little heart out to him. Today I showed the group ‘Laurie’s Nightingale’ and it performed well, Laurie would have been proud of it!

some of the group looking at Laurie's Nigtingale

We then drove around the corner to Christou Marsh to look for a pair of Stone Curlews, they didn’t show, we walked right round to the bridge and still couldn’t find one. Our morning pre-breakfast hour was almost over so we had to abandon our planned trip to the Eastern side of the salt pans, and so, we visited the small reservoir in the Potomia valley instead.

Our target bird was the Night Heron, we found three of them tucked away in the bushes, also present was a Little Bittern, Little Grebes, Moorhens and Coots. A Turtle Dove flew over us just before we left.

a dsiatnt record shot of the Night Heron

After breakfast we set off for beach-pool at Achladeri, we stopped twice, the first stop was to look for the Spotted Crake on the river Tsiknias and after a short while vanessa called out that she had seen something and sure enough out popped a Spotted Crake, it walked around very briefly, most of the group saw it and it never showed again. We also noted Reed, Great Reed and Sedge Warblers, black-headed Buntings and Red-backed Shrilkes.

Spotted Crake - taken by Dancho

The second stop was to look for Serins which Dancho duly found. He also found a surprise bird, the Sardinian Warbler, both birds we located on call, he really does have incredible hearing.

Reed Warbler

At the pool it was Dancho who saw our target bird in flight, a Great Shipe, it landed at the far end of pool next to a clump of sedge. We got the scope on it and wowza!! A Great Snipe in the bag, everyone saw it well, a great bird for our list. Also in and around the pool was: Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, Yellow Wagtail, Black-headed Bunting and the beautiful (not) Corn Bunting.

a view of the salt pans at Polichnitos (referred to by birders as the Poli-pans)

We also stopped in the olive groves to listen for Olive Tree Warbler, we heard a couple and spent some time trying to get a sighting without any luck. A second place revealed nothing at all, so we returned to the first area where we had stopped and found a track that led into the olive trees. In there we did get a sighting, Alan even got pictures of the bird!! Most of the group saw it. We also heard Olivaceous Warbler, Subalpine Warbler and back on the lane two Buzzard flew over, one of them was a Honey Buzzard, found by Dancho again.

Spotted Redshank seen at the Poli-Pans

We drove to the large beach pool at Alcoudi,  a fresh wind blew off the Gulf of Kalloni, but it settled down. We saw quite a few birds on the pool, 7 waders species, included: Little Stint, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and Kentish Plover. Both Common and Ruddy Shelducks and a large bunch of Flamingos were also feeding in the pool.

The salt pans at Polichnitos were particularly rewarding, we saw distant Little, Common and Sandwich Terns with usual Greater Flamingo, Avocets and Black-winged Stilts. In one pool we found two Spotted Redshank in full breeding plumage and a large mixed floxk of Ruff, Curlew Sandpipers (many in summer plumage) and Little Stints.

We took a coffee break in the town and sat overlooking the pretty harbour and before we knew it, it was 3pm! We then drove down to the south coast and visited the headland at Agios Fokas. We stopped on the bridge near Vatera to look at hundreds of Pond Terrapins and a Common Sandpiper.

At the headland, during a sea-watch,  we saw virtually nothing! A couple of European Shags and just three quite distant Yelkouan Shearwaters, very disappointing. The butterflies and flowers drew more attention from the group.

It was now 4pm so we had to set off back to the hotel, we stopped in the pine forest above Achladeri to look for Short-toed Treecreeper, we never saw one until Dancho heard a call as we were getting back into the buses! So out we scrambled for a second time and Dancho led us deep into the forest, it was Lawrence who found the bird. But how did Dancho hear it from such a distance away, everyone was amazed.

We finally got to visit the salt pans at 5:30pm, we drove along the west track and parked by the raised hide Scanning the pans from the road we found a Whiskered Tern sitting on a post, a Spur-winged Plover in the feeder channel and Dancho called out a Dalmatian Pelican, seen in flight.

We got back to the hotel at 6:30pm and found out that a second Great Snipe was showing in the marsh right outside our front door!! We walked over and sure enough there it was feeding right out in open and showing much better than one we saw this morning. Whilst we were there a Water Rail and a second Spotted Crake was seen by other people. As we walked back to the hotel Dancho spotted a Glossy Ibis flying over accompanied by two Little Egrets!

Great Snipe at the Kalloni Pool

Great Snipe with a Wood Sandpiper for size comparison

the Great Snipe taken by Dancho - compare the quality of the picture with mine above

After dinner we walked into town for the Barn Owl spectacular! We stood and waited with 20 other people to watch a barn owl arrive and depart from its nest site in the chimney of a building just off the main square. A Little Owl also appeared causing a bit of a side-show. The barn owl performed well and when we got back to our rooms a Scops owl was calling from the garden eucalyptus trees.